The future of medicine

The future of medicine: New weapons against cancer

Instead of scalpels and chemotherapy, doctors are increasingly resorting to high-tech solutions in the fight against cancer: Nano-capsules and proton radiation are among the most promising new patented technologies benefitting patients worldwide. The roster of groundbreaking inventions also includes numerous finalists and winners of the European Inventor Award.

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Personalised medicine

The future of healthcare will probably be personal, with therapeutics tailored to a patient's individual genomic profile. Here's a look at the game-changing achievements that paved the way for personalised medicine.

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Fighting diseases the personal way

The end of "one size fits all" medicine? From cheap, rapid DNA tests to growing new tissue from a patient's own stem cells, personalised prevention and treatment based on individual genomic data suggest that the key to combating diseases may lie in ourselves.

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Patents and nanotechnology

Big things come in small packages: All across medicine, biochemistry and material sciences, minuscule nano-particles are unleashing their tremendous potential. The EPO helps retrieve "nano" inventions from millions of entries in the European Patent Office (EPO) patent database with a new patent classification scheme (called "B82Y-Patents"). 

More details: Patent classification scheme "Nanotechnology"

Brochure: Nanotechnology and patents

Robots in the Operating Room

Discover the next level of surgical precision: The Da Vinci surgical robot unlocked ultra-precise incisions, accurate up to the millimetre. Now a standard in hospitals across the globe, the robot won its inventors the European Inventor Award in 2008.

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istockphoto.com/Nicolas Loran

Did you know?

For the past 15 years, medical technologies have been the leading category among patent applications to the European Patent Office (EPO).

In 2012, the EPO received a total of 10 412 patent applications for medical technologies; 42% from the US and 38% from Europe.

Germany is leading the pack in Europe with 12% of all medical technology patent applications, followed by Switzerland, France and the Netherlands (4% each).

View the 2012 EPO Annual Report

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Nicolas Loran


Josef Bille (JPG)

Patents for a medical apparatus or for medical methods?

When Josef Bille won the European Inventor of the Year Award in 2012, it was for inventing a device that revolutionised certain kinds of eye surgery. His invention received a patent from the European Patent Office, despite the fact that medical methods that can be directed to surgery, therapy or diagnosis are not patentable at the European Patent Office. In fact they are explicity excluded from patentability under Article 53 of the European Patent Convention.

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Gavriel Iddan

Colonoscopy with a “pill camera”

As an alternative to costly endoscopic screenings, a pill-shaped camera invented by Gavriel Iddan from Israel delivers high-resolution images from inside the human body.

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istockphoto.com/Max Delson Martins Santos

Customised pacemakers

Every heart beats to a different rhythm. The dynamic pacemaker developed by three Dutch inventors can be tailored to suit individual patients.


Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Max Delson Martins Santos
Jason Chin

Artificial proteins

Breakthroughs in synthetic biology by Jason Chin and Oliver Rackham enabled the manufacturing of artificial proteins for medical applications and research.

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